Larry Tessler, the computer engineer behind 'cut, copy and paste', passes away at 74

Your workday is easier thanks to his revolutionary ideas

larry-tessler-1 Larry Tessler

Larry Tesler, the computer engineer most commonly known as the developer of the 'cut, copy and paste' functions, and 'find and replace', which ushered in an era of user-friendliness in applications like the word processor, passed away on Thursday at the age of 74, the US-based company Xerox confirmed. Tessler was a former researcher for the organisation. The cut and paste command was reportedly inspired by old time editing that involved actually cutting portions of printed text and affixing them elsewhere with adhesive. "The inventor of cut/copy & paste, find & replace, and more was former Xerox researcher Larry Tesler. Your workday is easier thanks to his revolutionary ideas. Larry passed away Monday, so please join us in celebrating him," Xerox tweeted. The cause of death was not immediately known.

According to a profile in Gizmodo, Tessler studied computer science at Stanford University, dabbled in Artificial Intelligence, worked with Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) where he developed a word processor called Gypsy from which the now ubiquitous 'cut-copy-paste', 'find-replace' functions were developed. He was also one of the pioneers of modeless computing, which eliminated the need for different modes within a programme—which triggered user inputs differenty—aiding in adaptability and convenience.

From 1980-1997, he worked with Apple in California as a vice president and chief scientist on products such as Lisa, Macintosh, Color QuickDraw, QuickTime, AppleScript, HyperCard and Newton. According to his CV, he led development of the first commercial object-oriented frameworks, Lisa ToolKit and MacApp, and grew an advanced development team from 30 to 200. He expanded Apple R&D into areas such as animation, 3-D graphics, speech synthesis, massively parallel systems, distributed computing and scientific visualisation. 

He worked with Amazon (2001-2005) as vice president of shopping experience, Yahoo! Inc (2005-08) as vice president of user experience, and later, with companies like 23andMe, MINE.